As good as she's been during her current five-race winning streak, Romacaca will need to step it up a bit to keep her string alive in the $200,000 Ballston Spa Stakes (gr. IIT) on the Saratoga turf Aug. 27.
The 1 1/16-mile Ballston Spa, the eighth of 13 races on the Travers Day stakes card, attracted nine tough older fillies and mares. It has a 3:28 p.m. EDT post time.
Romacaca, trained by Nick Canani for Frank Calabrese, comes off a 1 1/4-length win in the Matchmaker Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the Monmouth Park turf July 31. She completed nine furlongs in 1:46.54 for her first graded stakes win.
The versatile 5-year-old Running Stag mare has won on all types of turf conditions and, though she likes to be forwardly placed, can win from off the pace.
The dark bay mare also likes to win them in bunches. Romacaca had another five-race win streak in 2009 when she was claimed at Gulfstream Park for $25,000 by Calabrese and moved into stakes company at Arlington Park.
“When she was younger, she was kind of a one-dimensional filly and would go to the lead and keep on going,” Canani said of Romacaca, who is 7-2 on the morning line. "She’s, to me, just a smarter filly. She’s figuring it out.”
Romacaca, who will have E.T. Baird aboard, owns a 12-4-2 record in 23 starts with earnings of $598,092. But she faces a field that includes plenty of graded stakes winners.
Team Valor International's Daveron, the 3-1 favorite, has won both of her starts this year. The 6-year-old German-bred mare started the year with a neck victory in the Beaugay Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park May 7. She returned nearly two months later for trainer Graham Motion to capture the Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap at Parx Racing by 2 1/4 lengths.
“She was very impressive that day,” Motion said of Daveron’s start in Pennsylvania. “(Jockey) Eddie (Castro) has done great with her because she is headstrong. I think she’s a really nice filly. This is a race we’ve pointed toward.”
After transferring from Great Britain to the Bill Mott barn for the 2011 season, Juddmonte Farms' Aviate won the Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs May 7. But the 4-year-old by Dansili has been a bit of a disappointment in two grade I tries since then, finishing sixth as the favorite in Belmont's Just A Game Stakes June 11 and fifth in Saratoga's Diana Handicap July 30.
David Egan's 6-year-old Irish-bred mare Mekong Melody won both the Dance Smartly Stakes (gr. IIT) at Woodbine and the Long Island Handicap (gr. IIT) at Aqueduct last year, but has been slow to find her form this season. Third in her return in the Dance Smartly July 10, the Roger Attfield trainee is coming off a willing fourth-place effort in the Diana. John Velazquez rides.
A second Attfield entrant, Three Chimneys Racing's Miss Keller, is likewise off to a slow start in 2011, failing to finish in the money in four starts. A good closing third in last year's Ballston Spa, she went on to win Woodbine's Canadian Stakes (gr. IIT) and was a strong second in the E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT).
The 5-year-old daughter of Montjeu has done little since, however, and is coming off a sixth in the De La Rose Stakes on the Saratoga inner turf course Aug. 6.
Strike the Bell, third with a big closing kick in a 5 1/2-furlong overnight turf stakes at Saratoga Aug. 1, and Desert Sage, fourth as the favorite in the Penney Memorial, complete the field.
$200,000 Ballston Spa Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 8, 3:28 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Hores, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Miss Keller (IRE), J Castellano, 120, R L Attfield
2. Romacaca (FL), E T Baird, 118, N Canani
3. Daveron (GER), E Castro, 118, H G Motion
4. Desert Sage (GB), J Lezcano, 118, C C Brown
5. Mekong Melody (IRE), J R Velazquez, 120, R L Attfield
6. Trix in the City (KY), S Bridgmohan, 118, R A Violette Jr.
7. Aviate (GB), J R Leparoux, 120, W I Mott
8. Strike the Bell (KY), R A Dominguez, 118, D G Donk
9. Tapitsfly (KY), R Albarado, 118, D L Romans